Water Quality Monitoring

Water Quality Monitoring Strategy for Surface Waters

Why sample?
Just looking at a lake or stream is not enough when trying to measure water quality. Sampling for specific water quality variables will give you proper insight into the health of a surface water. In turn, land management practices can be evaluated for changes that will positively influence the health of the water body. If a stream sample has results indicating a high fecal coliform count, practices such as livestock feedlot location, municipal wastewater treatment and urban runoff should be examined.

What should be sampled for?
Typically, surface water samples are taken for the following variables: total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphorus and fecal coliform bacteria. One variable that is becoming more widely used is biological indicators. Biological indicators are the animals and plant life that inhabit a particular surface water. Additional variables may be examined if they are thought to be present or cause a problem.

What will the results mean?
Once samples are taken and have been analyzed by a laboratory, the results must be interpreted. Results are compared to the State Water Quality Standards, and individual stream characteristics are taken into consideration. Reports generated from sampling results will list suspected causes of and solutions for excess pollutants that may be found.

How do we proceed from here?
Variables that are shown to be in excess of water quality standards might be addressed by implementing best management practices (BMPs). BMPs are simple, low-cost or no-cost methods of reducing pollution that occurs with runoff. Examples of a BMPs would be contour farming or implementing a used oil recycling program.

Links to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Custody/Log forms:

Chain of Custody Forms in Word
   Instructions for completion
     Example - completed Custody Form
     Example - completed duplicate sample

   Water quality sample Custody Form - in WORD

Sample Log Forms
   Water quality sample log - Version 1
   Water quality sample log - Version 2

   Chlorophyll - phytoplankton sample log

   Stream/River Grab Sample
   Stream/River Integrated Sample
   Lake Water Quality Sample
   Lake Water Quality with Six foot Column Sampler
   Secchi Disk

   Wadable Wetland - Water Quality sample
   Wadable Wetland - Temp/DO
Biological Sampling
   Fish Collection
   Fish (Whole) Tissue sampling
   Fish Fillet Tissue sampling
   Fish plug sampling
   Macroinvertebrate Collection
   Macroinvertebrate (Laboratory Processing)

Stage & Flow
   Staff Gage
   Automated Stage
   Discharge Measurement
   Hand Held Meter
   Sediment Samples

   Animal Feeding Runoff Risk with Index
   Reference Site Screening